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Halo 2

Halo 2 / Xbox
$7.00
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editor score 9.4
user score 10.0
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Release Date

11/09/2004

Genre

First-Person Shooter

Vehicular Combat

Themes

Sci-Fi

Developer

Bungie

Publisher

Microsoft Studios

Overview

An example of the game's multiplayer mode.
An example of the game's multiplayer mode.

Developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft on November 9, 2004, Halo 2 went on to become the best selling game for the Xbox, selling 6.3 million units in the United States and 8 million around the world. In this installment, the player splits time between two roles: the Master Chief and the Arbiter, a disgraced Covenant Elite. The two protagonists have minor differences. The game opens with two simultaneous story threads. The Master Chief and Sergeant Major Johnson are receiving a commendation for their actions in the original Halo. Meanwhile, the Arbiter is answering for his failure to defend Halo from Earth's attack. During all this, the Covenant attacks Earth and the Master Chief is called into battle once again.

Editions

Standard

Limited Edition Halo 2.
Limited Edition Halo 2.
  • Standard box art (MC dual-wielding SMG's)
  • Standard game disc
  • Human Perspective Game Manual (with MC on cover)

Limited Edition Halo 2

  • Tin Halo 2 box (plain silver with embossed Halo 2 logo)
  • Standard game disc
  • Extra making-of DVD
  • Covenant Perspective Game Manual (with Arbiter on cover)

Plot

The game is the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, and takes place in the same universe. The first cut scene is of a Covenant Elite's trial and judgement by the Covenant hierarchy. It then cuts to the Master Chief on one of the newly built planetary defense platforms (the Cairo to be specific). After receiving a new suit, the Mark VI, the Chief is led by Sgt. Johnson to an award ceremony. As the honors are presented, it cuts back to the Elite, as he is publicly tortured and branded. As the brand is applied, the scene cuts back to the ceremony as the station is attacked by a small Covenant fleet. After fighting his way through the station to help Cortana disarm a bomb brought on board by the Covenant, the Chief follows the last remaining Covenant ship to the surface of the Earth (specifically New Mombasa) to capture the Prophet of Regret reportedly aboard. However, the ship jumps away, taking the player's ship and part of the city with it to another Halo, where the player lands and continues to pursue the Prophet. This instalment also has a second story path in which the player takes control of the Arbiter, the disgraced Elite from the opening cut scene. At first the Arbiter continues to serve the Prophets' whims, but soon discovers their lies and betrays them in order to prevent the activation of the Halo and save all life in the galaxy.

Gameplay

Halo 2 has a lot of updates over Halo: Combat Evolved. Under the new system, once shields have been depleted, the player can only take a few hits until death, but once shields recharge, health resets. This is explained through the new Mark VI suit, which injects bio-foam directly into the wearer's wounds. Active Camo has been removed as an item. Instead, the Arbiter has a rechargeable version of Camo, instead of a flashlight like the Chief. Another new addition is dual wielding certain weapons, including the pistol, the new SMG, the needler, the plasma pistol, and the plasma rifle. When dual wielding, weapons take longer to reload and the ability to throw grenades is taken out. Another newly added mechanic is the ability to board enemy vehicles when they are near the player and travelling at low speeds.

The change in HUD.
The change in HUD.

The most noticeable change in the weapons is the absence of the iconic assault rifle. It is replaced by the new battle rifle; a three shot burst weapon with a 2x scope. The Covenant equivalent of the battle rifle is the carbine; a semi-automatic weapon that also has a 2x scope (the carbine uses ammo instead of battery power). In addition to the battle rifle and carbine, there is now the SMG (a small compact fully automatic weapon), a new pistol with no scope, the brute shot (Covenant grenade launcher), a brute plasma rifle (which fires faster than the regular plasma rifle), an improved rocket launcher (which locks onto enemy vehicles), and the energy sword (which can now be used by the player).

Halo 2 is supported on Xbox Live and was one of--if not the most--popular game played online, all the way until the release of the 360 and Halo 3. Instead of the players picking the map and game type, a new matchmaking system was introduced in which the player chooses a playlist, which then generates random games under set criteria. This system also attempts to match only players of similar skill, to keep games fair. Certain aspects found in the campaign have been removed to keep things fair; for example, the fuel rod cannon is not found on normal maps, and the Banshee's fuel rod cannon is removed.

Multiplayer

Halo 2 was the first Halo game on Xbox to feature online play through Xbox Live. The game had many advanced features including matchmaking, voice chat, and rankings. There was also some customization implemented into the game as well, which created a lot of user created content. Many games came out of these customization options, such as Tremors, Troy, Vehicle Wars and the most popular being Zombies which grew so popular Bungie saw fit to put it into Halo 3. Players really enjoyed the customization options and kept many players sticking around even after getting their fill of matchmaking. The match making games were very competitive in Halo 2 due to the intensive ranking system. The way the ranking system in Halo 2 works is when you first start playing the game you start with the level 1 and as you win matches your level increases. If you lose enough matches you can drop levels. These ranking were taken very seriously by the Halo 2 community. The color of the level a player had was very important to most Halo 2 fanatics. You can see what the levels look like in the picture below.

The Halo 2 ranks.
The Halo 2 ranks.

Levels 44-50 were "secret" levels -- they were picture of various things, such as the moon or the halo ring.

Halo 2 had 24 maps the people could play online and was the most played game ever on Xbox Live. Even after the Xbox 360 was released Halo 2 still remained the most popular. The first game to top the amount of online players Halo 2 had each month, was the original Gears of War.

Matchmaking Playlists

  • Rumble Pit
  • Double Team
  • Team Slayer
  • Team Skirmish
  • Team Training
  • Team Snipers
  • Team Hardcore
  • Big Team Battle
  • Team SWAT
  • H2 Challenge

Clan

Halo 2 is one of the few Xbox games ever that supported "clans", which are basically a group or team of players that play games against other "clans". This was a huge part of Halo 2 and was very successful. Clans on console games have never really worked that well and Halo 2 introduced a quick, and easy, way to make them without having the dedication PC clan members have. To check out your clan you press the Y button and bring up the friends list, you can scroll right, which will bring you to the clan page. If you are not in a clan, you can join a clan (if you were invited to a clan). You must receive a "clan invite" to be able to join a clan. If you have not been invited to a clan, you can create your own clan. If you decide to go down this route, you will be asked to create a unique name for your clan. This name can not be changed and must be appropriate, or Bungie will reject the name. After creating a name, you must invite people to join your clan. Players are only allowed to be in one clan at one time. When members join, they will first be at the level of member, but the Overlords of the clan are allowed to change their status.

Clan Status Levels

  1. Overlord- The creator of the clan is the Overlord and has complete control over the clan. The Overlord can elect other trustworthy clan members to also be an Overlord.
  2. Staff- Staff members are important respected members of a clan. Their level of power can vary by the amount of power the Overlord gives Staff members.
  3. Member- When someone joins a clan, they are a Member. This is the middle class in a clan. Most clan members are Members. Members do not hold much power.
  4. Peon- The level of Peon is the lowest level of status. Peons hold no power.

Server Shutdown

On February 5th, 2010 Microsoft announced that they would be shutting down the original Xbox online servers effective April 15th thus ending Halo 2's online multiplayer. This date marks the end of an era as Halo 2 offered one of the most popular competitive online experiences in the history of console gaming. Bungie promised that those who played on the day before the server shutdown, would be rewarded with "Halo: Reach" items. No specific details were released.

Following Microsoft's announcement, Bungie rallied to bring the Halo 2 community together on April 14th for a final celebration of the game's multiplayer greatness and rich history. As of May 2nd, 2010, there were still 7 people left on Halo 2's servers because of the fact that they never logged off after Microsoft blocked access to Xbox Live. As of May 11th, 2010 the last man to play Halo 2 on XBL was APACHE N4SIR who was forcefully removed from Xbox LIVE at 1:58 AM EST.

Multiplayer Maps

The Xbox version of Halo 2 included 12 multiplayer maps. One of the maps (Foundation) had to be unlocked by triggering a training event on the last level of the campaign, but was made available to all in a patch.

  • Lockout
  • Ascension
  • Midship
  • Ivory Tower
  • Beaver Creek (remake of Battle Creek from Halo: Combat Evolved)
  • Burial Mounds
  • Colossus
  • Zanzibar
  • Coagulation (remake of Blood Gulch from Halo: Combat Evolved)
  • Headlong
  • Waterworks
  • Foundation (based on the Thunderdome levels from the Marathon series)

Bonus Map Pack

The Bonus Map Pack is one of the first two downloadable map packs for Halo 2. It was originally released for free on April 25, 2005 and contained two maps:

  • Containment
  • Warlock (remake of Wizard from Halo: Combat Evolved)

Killtacular Map Pack

The Killtacular Map Pack is also one of the first two downloadable map packs for Halo 2. It was originally released for $4.99 on April 25, 2005, was made free on June 28, 2005, and contained two maps:

  • Sanctuary
  • Turf

Maptacular Map Pack

The Maptacular Map Pack is the third downloadable map pack for Halo 2. It was originally released for $11.99 on July 5, 2005, was made free on August 30, 2005, and contained five maps:

  • Backwash
  • Elongation (remake of Longest from Halo: Combat Evolved)
  • Gemini (remake of Duality from Marathon)
  • Relic
  • Terminal

Blastacular Map Pack

The Blastacular Map Pack is the fourth and last downloadable map pack for Halo 2. It was originally released for $4.00 on April 17, 2007, was made free on July 7, 2007, and contained two map remakes from the original Halo. As of April 15, 2010, there is no way to download this map pack.

  • Desolation (remake of Derelict from Halo: Combat Evolved)
  • Tombstone (remake of Hang 'Em High from Halo: Combat Evolved)

Vista-exclusive maps

Along with the original maps and maps from the Bonus, Killtacular, and Maptacular map packs, the Windows Vista version of Halo 2 features two new exclusive multiplayer maps:

  • District
  • Uplift

Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack

The retail box art for the Multiplayer Map Pack.
The retail box art for the Multiplayer Map Pack.

On July 5, 2005, Microsoft Game Studios published a retail disc for $19.99 containing the Bonus, Killtacular, and Maptacular map packs, as well as game updates (up to July 5, 2005) and bonus content. The map compilation was developed primarily for Xbox owners that are not subscribed to Xbox Live. The disc also includes a bonus three-minute Halo 2 cutscene (showing what happens to the marines in the Pelican that is shot down in the intro sequence to the level Outskirts), a video documentary on the development of the maps included in the disc, the original trailer for Halo: Combat Evolved, the Halo 2 announcement trailer, and a humorous audio clip used to test your surround sound set-up. The disc is also backwards-compatible with the Xbox 360 and is the only current way to download the Bonus, Killtacular, and Maptacular map packs. (Unless you're playing the Windows Vista version)

Multiplayer Glitches

Several weeks and months after Halo 2's release, players began to discover and take advantage of several relatively major glitches in the game. As players began to practice these glitches and become well-versed in executing them they gained a much more significant place in the meta-game, with some of the weapon-based glitches becoming essential for success against the higher ranking players. While game creator Bungie officially decreed on several occasions that a player's use of glitches for personal gain, in a Matchmaking setting, was a form of cheating, the developer had no way of tracking the use of such glitches by players. Ultimately, there were no widespread punishments or repercussions handed-down to players who utilized these glitches.

Some of the most noteworthy glitches:

BXR

Commonly used in conjunction with the Battle Rifle (though possible to execute with any reloadable weapon) the BXR was a weapon animation glitch that allowed for a nearly instantaneous close-ranged kill. The glitch became very widespread among the highest ranks of players as the meta-game progressed.

Quick Reload (YY)

Another glitch commonly used among higher-caliber players, the Quick Reload glitch was a weapon animation glitch that shaved precious seconds off of a player's reload time, allowing them to fire their weapon again sooner than they normally would with the default reload. The glitch was only possible when a player was carrying a secondary weapon. The move was executed by the player pressing the Y button twice in quick succession as soon as the reload animation reached the point where the in-game character began to insert a new clip into the weapon. If done properly the player will quickly switch to their secondary weapon and then back to their primary, eliminating the rest of the reload animation while still giving the player a full clip.

Double Melee (BXB)

A third weapon animation glitch, the BXB was used to give players a significant advantage in close-range combat. Executed by pressing B, X, B in quick succession (under the default controller settings), the glitch allowed players to melee twice in a much shorter time span than if they were simply to press the melee button two times. Contrary to the BXR, which required a full clip of ammo to execute properly, the BXB required the player to have a partially depleted or empty ammo clip in their primary weapon. As with the other weapon glitches, the BXB saw very widespread use among the top-tier players.

Double Shot (RRX)

One of the most popular glitches among MLG fans and players, the Double Shot was a glitch that was used primarily with the Battle Rifle that allowed players to fire two of the weapon's 3-shot bursts in one shot, resulting in 6 bullets being fired at once. The downside to this glitch was that after successfully firing a Double Shot, there was a significant span of time (roughly two to three seconds) where the player could not fire their weapon, and could only attack if they threw a grenade, used a melee attack, or switched to a secondary weapon. For this reason players would often hold off on using a Double Shot unless they were one or several "shots down" in a BR fight, or had a secondary weapon that they could "YY" with to cancel the long delay after a successful double shot.

Quad Shot (RRXYYRRX)

Similar to the double shot the quad shot, if done right, can shoot 4 shots out of the BR in half the time it normally would take. To do this you need two weapons, first you start out with your double shot then you press "YY" really fast in order to cancel the reload, if you double shot correctly you will notice the reload animation isn't playing but it is still reloading in the background this is normal so don't worry, now after pressing "YY" do another double shot, and with much practice you can do this .

Super Bouncing (also known as Super Jumping)

A first-person view from a player who "super-bounced" to the top of the map Ascension.
A first-person view from a player who "super-bounced" to the top of the map Ascension.

A glitch in the game's Havok physics engine that makes it possible for players to "bounce" to extreme heights, enabling them to reach previously inaccessible and out-of-bounds regions on a multiplayer map. The glitch was used quite frequently in a Matchmaking setting to give a player or team a significant advantage through an unreachable hiding spot or unfair vantage point.

Sword Canceling (Butterflying)

Sword canceling is a glitch that takes advantage of the "lunge" effect that the Energy Sword provides for the player. By aiming at an opponent with the Energy Sword at a close enough proximity for the reticule to light up red, then pressing the Right Trigger and X in quick succession, a player can achieve the normal Sword lunge without in any way damaging their opponent. The glitch is most commonly used to give players a means of reaching previously inaccessible ledges or areas of a map. The glitch earned the nickname "Butterflying" due to the strange, butterfly-like motion of the character model's arms when performing the sword cancel.

Rocket Sword Glitch

A glitch that would require a sword and a rocket launcher as a secondary. You would look at an enemy from a distance and rapidly alternate pressing "Y" and "B" and you would launch towards the person you were aiming at from afar.

Cheating

As with most online games, Halo 2's online environment featured some players who manipulated and modified certain aspects of the game to provide themselves with an unfair advantage over their opponents. Players cheated most commonly in matchmaking playlists, so that they could more easily obtain a matchmaking rank that players would see associated with their gamertag. The highest-level matchmaking ranks, that featured symbols in place of numbers (ranks 44-50), were the most desirable and most sought after ranks to cheaters; therefore, non-cheaters often found it very difficult to play a legitimate, cheat-free match at the highest ranks. There were several different methods of cheating, each with different effects on gameplay.

Modding

Achieved through the use of cheat-devices such as Action Replay, Modding was the most common, game-changing form of cheating. "Modders" manipulated map files and gametypes to create gameplay that was well-outside the normal limits placed by the game engine. Common modded elements were changes in player speed and gravity, changed weapon properties (such as Plasma Rifles that fired Wraith projectiles), and changed vehicle properties (flying Warthogs, flying turrets, faster Scorpions, etc.). Due to the dramatic, game-changing effects of modding, it was fairly easy for Bungie's automated banning tool -- notoriously dubbed the "Banhammer" by players and Bungie staff -- to detect and ban players who used modded files in matchmade games. Most "modders" had only a few hours, at most, to rise through the matchmaking ranks before being faced with a permanent ban, and a vast majority of modders were inevitably banned. The problem was that there were so many free two-month Xbox Live trials available, it was easy for a modder to quickly make another account.

Standbying

The second most game-changing form of cheating, behind Modding, was known as Standbying. Making use of the game's host-based server system, standbying was achieved by having the "host" player manipulate their internet connection to cause problems for the other players in the match. When the host managed to successfully tamper with their connection, it would cause all of the other players in the game to experience enormous amounts of lag. The host's Xbox was immune to the lag issues, and could travel around the map killing enemy players or completing game objectives without much, if any, opposition. Though the Standby glitch was originally achieved by players manually pressing the "Standby" button on their router, modem, or switch, eventually players used various computer software so that they could throttle the connections of only the opposing team, giving all of their teammates a reprieve from the negative effects of the glitch. Eventually, Bungie improved the banhammer to better detect and control "standbyers" in matchmaking.

Bridging

Bridging was a method of controlling "host" in a matchmaking game, and, more specifically, a way of ensuring that a certain player in the game always received host. Unlike modding and standbying, though, bridging was not a very detrimental form of cheating on its own. Bridging was accomplished through the use of specific Firewall software that controlled the ports and incoming IP Addresses for a player's router or switch. By using the program with the correct settings, a player could be ensured of being host for every game they played. Also, due to the nature of the glitch, bridgers could not be matched with or against other bridgers, so the bridging player always decided who received host. While Bridging was used in conjunction with Standbying or Modding to ensure that those forms of cheating worked as efficiently as possible by giving a certain player host, it was also used as a preventative measure against cheaters. Some players used bridging to make sure that no nefarious players could obtain host, therefore ensuring a quality match experience. As of the 1.6 update for Halo 2, the most common methods of Bridging were no longer effective or possible in matchmaking.

In Pop Culture

In season 20, episode 19 of The Simpsons, Homer and Marge teabag Homer's kill.

Soundtrack

The Halo 2 Original Soundtrack was released in two volumes, composed by Martin O'Donnel and Michael Salvatori. Volume One was released on November 9th, 2004 and Volume Two was released on April 25th, 2006.

Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume One (69:20)

Volume One
Volume One
  1. Halo Theme (4:11)
  2. Blow Me Away - Breaking Benjamin (3:25)
  3. Peril (2:46)
  4. Ghosts of Reach (2:22)
  5. Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey) - Incubus (4:15)
  6. Heretic, Hero (2:34)
  7. Flawed Legacy (1:58)
  8. Impend (2:21)
  9. Never Surrender - Nile Rodgers (3:35)
  10. Ancient Machine (1:38)
  11. 2nd Movement of the Odyssey - Incubus (7:40)
  12. In Amber Clad (1:39)
  13. The Last Spartan (2:18)
  14. Orbit of Glass (1:18)
  15. 3rd Movement of the Odyssey - Incubus (6:40)
  16. Heavy Price Paid (2:31)
  17. Earth City (3:06)
  18. High Charity (1:59)
  19. 4th Movement of the Odyssey - Incubus (9:07)
  20. Remembrance (1:17)
  21. Connected - Hoobastank (2:39)

Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume Two (68:48)

Volume Two
Volume Two

1. Prologue (2:35)

  1. Rising (0:20)
  2. Cloistered Expectancy (0:25)
  3. Weight of Failure (1:50)

2. Cairo Suite (9:42)

  1. Cold Blue Light (1:54)
  2. Waking Spartan (3:36)
  3. Jeweled Hull (2:03)
  4. Chill Exposure (2:09)

3. Mombasa Suite (6:41)

  1. Metropole (1:29)
  2. Broken Gates (2:47)
  3. Encounter (2:25)

4. Unyielding (3:04)

5. Mausoleum Suite (8:10)

  1. Destroyer's Invocation (4:36)
  2. Falling Up (1:49)
  3. Infected (1:16)
  4. Shudder (0:29)

6. Unforgotten (2:09)

7. Delta Halo Suite (11:29)

  1. Penance (2:32)
  2. Wage (2:42)
  3. Leonidas (2:28)
  4. Dust and Bones (3:44)

8. Sacred Icon Suite (7:26)

  1. Cortege (3:38)
  2. Opening Volley (0:28)
  3. Veins of Stone (3:20)

9. Reclaimer (3:03)

10. High Charity Suite (8:29)

  1. Rue and Woe (1:30)
  2. Respite (2:17)
  3. Antedilluvial (2:22)
  4. Pursuit of Truth (2:18)

11. Finale (3:10)

  1. Great Journey (1:15)
  2. Thermopylae Soon (1:55)

12. Epilogue (3:49)

  1. Beholden (1:03)
  2. Road to Voi (2:19)
  3. Subsume (0:27)

System Requirements

  • Windows Vista/7 Operating System
  • 2.0 GHz computer processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 7 GB of Hard Disk space
  • ATI X700 or Nvidia 6100 display adapter with 128 MB of RAM with Pixel and Vertex Shader 2 or higher.

Live Traits

  • Online Multiplayer 2-16
  • Achievements (PC only)
  • Friends
  • Voice

Vista Experience Index

  • Game Recommended Rating - 5.0
  • Game Required Rating - 3.0